Charities and Patronages

The King, Queen and other members of the Royal Family lend their names and much of their time to many different charities and organisations. Currently, over 3,000 organisations list a member of the Royal Family as their patron or president. These range from well-known charities such as the British Red Cross to new, smaller charities, to regiments in the Armed Forces.

The King in Kenya

Please note: Following The King’s Accession, the Royal Household is conducting a review of patronages. The review will cover the organisations of which the late Queen Elizabeth II was patron or president and those organisations to which The King and The Queen were connected through patronage or presidency as Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. 

Having a Royal patron or president provides vital publicity for the work of these organisations, and allows their enormous achievements and contributions to society to be recognised.

Between them, members of the Royal Family have approximately 600 patronages relating to the Armed Services. These vary from honorary roles with specific regiments in the UK and Commonwealth, to involvement with charities providing support to veterans.

The Queen hosts a Colonel's Fund reception


The first recorded patronage was George II’s involvement with the Society of Antiquaries, an organisation concerned with architectural and art history, conservation and heraldry. The society still exists today and retains its Royal patronage through The Duke of Gloucester’s involvement.

The Queen meets RNLI volunteers

Other organisations have enjoyed a long history of Royal association, with Patronages being handed down through generations of the Royal Family. For example, King George IV became Patron of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in 1824, and subsequent Monarchs have all taken on the role. In 2014 The Prince of Wales (then The Duke of Cambridge) became the third generation of the Royal Family to take on the Presidency of the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC), following in the footsteps of The King and the late Duke of Edinburgh before him. 

The King and The Prince of Wales at a Sub-Aqua Club engagement

How are patronages chosen?

Patronages generally reflect the interests of the member of the Royal Family involved, for example, The Queen – when Duchess of Cornwall – took on the Presidency of the Royal Osteoporosis Society as both her mother and grandmother died as a result of the brittle bone disease.  

The Queen at the Royal Osteoporosis Society

Princess Alexandra, who undertook a nursing course at Great Ormond Street Hospital after leaving school, is Patron of both the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service and Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service.

The King is Patron of a number of environmental charities and initiatives

Many of The King’s patronages – taken on when he was Prince of Wales - stemmed from his passions for the environment and the arts, whilst the current Prince of Wales’s involvement with the Centrepoint charity reflects his long-standing interest in homelessness and the people affected by it. 

The titles of various members of the Royal Family also dictate certain themes in their patronages. The Duchess of Edinburgh – previously The Countess of Wessex - is Patron of the regional charity, Wessex Heartbeat. The Duke of Kent is similarly involved with various Kent-based organisations, including the Kent County Agricultural Society



Do you want to nominate a charity or organisation?

Every member of the Royal Family receives hundreds of requests each year from organisations asking for their support. Applications for the patronage of any member of the Royal Family are submitted to the appropriate Private Secretary who will pass on requests which they think may be of interest to the member of the Royal Family that they work with.

If the member of the Royal Family thinks that one of these requests would be rewarding or important to take on, then they will usually ask for more research to be undertaken so that an informed decision can be made. 

A range of factors are taken into consideration. These include that the organisation making the request is reputable and well-established and has a good financial track record. 

Once it has been decided that the patronage will be taken on, the duration of the patronage must be decided. There is no set length. Sometimes members of the Royal Family might take on a patronage relating to a specific campaign or event which only lasts a finite length of time. Other times patronages are for life. 

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